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Magma — Kãrtëhl
(Seventh Records A XXXXI, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-11-13

Kãrtëhl Cover art

For those who thought Zess would be Magma’s grand studio finale, the good news is that it isn’t. In fact this crazy French band from another planet that sings in their own made-up language still has a lot of energy and power remaining in their collective starship, as evidenced by Kãrtëhl. This album’s origins go back to some demos created by Christian Vander and the late René Garber (Dehrstun and Stundehr) in 1978, two of which are included here as bonus tracks. The finished versions (“Hakhënd Deïs” and “Dëhndë”) arranged with the full eleven-piece band performing, bookend four new cuts, although it’s not clear whether any of those have a similar origin — one might suspect not, because three of those four cuts were written by current members of the band. The emphasis throughout the new recordings is on the strength of the vocals — fully six of the current members of the group are singers: lead vocalists Stella Vander and Hervé Aknin, and additional (chorus) vocalists Caroline Indjein, Laura Guarrato, Isabelle Feuillebois, and Sylvie Fisichella. The five instrumentalists are Christian Vander (who also handles lead vocals) on drums, keyboardists Thierry Eliez and Simon Goubert, guitarist Rudy Blas, and bassist Jimmy Top (son of Jannick Top). Opener “Hakhënd Deïs” introduces the singers and instrumentalists splendidly with all of the new arrangements. Next up is “Do Rïn Ȉlï Üss,” a Herve Aknin penned jazz vocal piece. Christian Vander’s “Irena Balladina” offers a beautiful blend of melody and dreamy vocal harmonies, along with a bit of guitar punch, leading into an even dreamier “Walomëhndëm Warreï,” Eliez’ contribution to the songwriting on the album in what seems like return to a classic mid-70s Magma style as it surges to maximum power at its crowning vocal coda. With the vocal acrobatics that open Houbert’s “Wiï Mëlëhn Tü,” we are again treated to something more like what one might have heard from the band in Its first decade, incredibly beautiful and classic in every way. That leaves Christian Vander’s “Dëhndë” to close out the album proper on a gentle note with a full complement of voices. The two demos tacked on at the end as bonus tracks almost seem anticlimactic, though longtime fans of the band will certainly be interested in hearing them. Kãrtëhl offers another solid entry in the Magma canon that certainly won’t disappoint longtime fans of the band.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Magma

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